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LAWYER'S LAW FOR SLAVERY.
banishment thither of felons from the | garded only with vague curiosity and
mother country seems to have provoked no serious objection. That such a colony, in such an age, should have existed thirteen years prior to the introduction of Negro Slavery, indicates rather its weakness and poverty than its virtue. The probability is that its planters bought the first slaves that were offered them; at any rate, the first that they were able to pay for. When the Pilgrim Fathers landed on the rock of Plymouth," Virginia had already received and distributed her first cargo of slaves."
There is no record of any serious opposition, whether on moral or economic grounds, to the introduction of slaves and establishment of Slavery in the various British, Dutch, and Swedish Colonies, planted along the coast between the Penobscot and the Savannah rivers during the succeeding century. At the outset, it is certain that the importation of negro chattels into the various seaports, by merchants trading thither, was re
10 December 22, 1620. The first slaves brought to Virginia were sold from a Dutch vessel, which landed twenty at Jamestown, in 1620.
11"In the first recorded case (Butts v. Penny, 2 Lev., 201; 3 Kib., 785), in 1677, in which the question of property in negroes appears to have come before the English courts, it was held, 'that, being usually bought and sold among merchants as merchandise, and also being infidels, there might be a property in them sufficient to maintain trover.'"-Hildreth's Hist. U. S., vol. ii., p. 214.
"What precisely the English law might be on the subject of Slavery, still remained a matter of doubt. Lord Holt had expressed the opinion, as quoted in a previous chapter, that Slavery was a condition unknown to English law, and that every person setting foot in England thereby became free. American planters, on their visits to England, seem to have been annoyed by claims of freedom set up on this ground, and that, also, of baptism. To relieve their embarrassments, the merchants concerned in the American trade" (in 1729) "had obtained a written opinion from Yorke and Talbot, the
marvel, like that which would now be excited by the experimental introduction of elephants or hippopotami as beasts of burden. Human rights, in the abstract, had not yet been made a theme of popular discussion, hardly of philosophic speculation: for English liberty, John Hampden had not yet poured out his blood on the battle-field, nor Algernon Sidney laid his head on the block. The negroes, uncouth and repulsive, could speak no word intelligible to British or Colonial ears, when first imported, and probably had a scarcely clearer conception of their own rights and wrongs than had those by whom they were surrounded. Some time ere the middle of the Seventeenth Century, a British Attorney-General, having the question formally submitted to him, gave his official opinion, that negroes, being pagans, might justly be held in Slavery, even in England itself. The amount of the fee paid by the wealthy and prosperous slave-traders
attorney and solicitor general of that day. According to this opinion, which passed for more than forty years as good law, not only was baptism no bar to Slavery, but negro slaves might be held in England just as well as in the Colonies. The two lawyers by whom this opinion was given rose afterward, one of them to be chief justice of England, and both to be chancellors. Yorke, sitting in the latter capacity, with the title of Lord Hardwicke" (in 1749), “had recently recognized the doctrine of that opinion as sound law. (Pearce v. Lisle, Ambler, 76.) He objects to Lord Holt's doctrine of freedom, secured by setting foot on English soil, that no reason could be found why slaves should not be equally free when they set foot in Jamaica, or any other English plantation. All our colonies are subject to the laws of England, although as to some purposes they have laws of their own! His argument is that, if Slavery be contrary to English law, no local enactments in the Colonies could give it any validity. To avoid overturning Slavery in the Colonies, it was absolutely necessary to uphold it in England."-Ibid., p. 426.
for this remarkable display of legal erudition and acumen, is not recorded, but it probably included a liberal consideration for wear-andtear of conscience. Two or three decisions from British courts were, at different times thereafter, obtained, substantially echoing this opinion. It was not till 1772 that Lord Mansfield pronounced, in the ever-memorable Somerset case, his judgment that, by the laws of England, no man could be held in Slavery. That judgment has never since been disturbed, nor seriously questioned.
The austere morality and democratic spirit of the Puritans ought to have kept their skirts clear from the stain of human bondage. But, beneath all their fierce antagonism, there was a certain kinship between the disciples of Calvin and those of Loyola. Each were ready to suffer and die for God's truth as they understood it, and neither cherished any appreciable sympathy or consideration for those they esteemed God's enemies, in which category the savages of America and the heathen negroes of Africa were so unlucky as to be found. The Puritan pioneers of New England were early involved in desperate, life-or-death struggles with their Aboriginal neighbors, in whom they failed to discover those poetic and fascinating traits which irradiate them in the novels of Cooper and the poems of Longfellow. Their experience of Indian ferocity and treachery, acting upon their theologic convictions, led them early and readily to the belief that these savages, and by logical inference all savages, were the children of the devil, to be subjugated, if not extirpated, as the Philistine inhabitants
of Canaan had been by the Israelites under Joshua. Indian slavery, sometimes forbidden by law, but usually tolerated, if not entirely approved, by public opinion, was among the early usages of New England; and from this to negro slavery-the slavery of any variety of pagan barbarians-was an easy transition. That the slaves in the Eastern colonies were few, and mainly confined to the seaports, does not disprove this statement. The harsh climate, the rocky soil, the rugged topography of New England, presented formidable, though not impassable, barriers to slaveholding. Her narrow patches of arable soil, hemmed in between bogs and naked blocks of granite, were poorly adapted to cultivation by slaves. The labor of the hands without the brain, of muscle divorced from intelligence, would procure but a scanty livelihood on those bleak hills. He who was compelled, for a subsistence, to be, by turns, farmer, mechanic, lumberman, navigator, and fisherman, might possibly support one slave, but would be utterly ruined by half a dozen. Slaveholding in the Northern States was rather coveted as a social distinction, a badge of aristocracy and wealth, than resorted to with any idea of profit or pecuniary advantage.
It was different southward of the Susquehanna, but especially in South Carolina, where the cultivation of Rice and. Indigo on the seaboard had early furnished lucrative employment for a number of slaves far exceeding that of the white population, and whose Sea Islands afforded peculiar facilities for limiting the intercourse of the slaves with each other, and their means of escape to the wilder
GEORGIA A FREE COLONY.
ness and to the savages. South Car- | characterized the British system of Imprisonment for Debt, he devoted himself to their reform, and carried through the House an act to this end. His interest in the fortunes of bankrupt and needy debtors led him to plan the establishment of a colony to which they should be invited, and in which they might hope, by industry and prudence, to attain independence. This colony was also intended to afford an asylum for the oppressed Protestants of Germany and other portions of the continent. He interested many eminent and influential personages in his project, obtained for it a grant of nearly ten thousand pounds sterling from Parliament, with subscriptions to the amount of sixteen thousand more, and organized a company for its realization, whereof the directors were nearly all noblemen and members of Parliament. Its constitution forbade any director to receive any pecuniary advantage therefrom. Being himself the animating soul of the enterprise, he was persuaded to accept the arduous trust of governor of the colony, for which a royal grant had been obtained of the western coast of the Atlantic from the mouth of the Savannah to that of the Altamaha, and to which the name of Georgia was given in honor of the reigning sovereign. The trustees were incorporated in June, 1732. The pioneer colonists left England in November of that year, and landed at Charleston in January, 1733. Proceeding directly to their territory, they founded the city of Savannah in the course of the ensuing month. Oglethorpe, as director and vice-president of the African Company, had previously become
olina, a century ago, was as intensely, conspicuously aristocratic and slaveholding as in our own day. But when Slavery had obtained everywhere a foothold, and, in most colonies, a distinct legal recognition, without encountering aught deserving the name of serious resistance, it were absurd to claim for any colony or section a moral superiority in this regard over any other.
The single and most honorable exception to the general facility with which this giant wrong was adopted and acquiesced in, is presented by the history of Georgia. That colony may owe something of her preëminence to her comparatively recent foundation; but she is far more indebted to the character and efforts of her illustrious founder. JAMES OGLETHORPE was born in 1688, or 1689, at Godalming, Surry County, England; entered the British army in 1710; and, having resigned on the restoration of peace, was, in 1714, commended by the great Marlborough to his former associate in command, the famous Prince Eugene of Savoy, by whom he was appointed one of his aids. He fought under Eugene in his brilliant and successful campaign against the Turks in 1716 and 1717, closing with the siege and capture of Belgrade, which ended the war. Declining to remain in the Austrian service, he returned, in 1722, to England, where, on the death of his elder brother about this time, he inherited the family estate; was elected to Parliament for the borough of Hazelmere, which he represented for the ensuing thirty-two years, and, becoming acquainted with the frightful abuses and inhumanities which then
captured and sold into slavery by some neighboring chief, and had returned him to his native country, after imbibing from his acquaintance with the facts a profound detestation of the Slave-Trade and of Slavery. One of the fundamental laws devised by Oglethorpe for the government of his colony was a prohibition of slaveholding; another was an interdiction of the sale or use of Rum-neither of them calculated to be popular with the jail-birds, idlers, and profligates, who eagerly sought escape from their debts and their miseries by becoming members of the new colony. The spectacle of men, no wiser nor better than themselves, living idly and luxuriously, just across the Savannah river, on the fruits of constrained and unpaid negro labor, doubtless inflamed their discontent and their hostility. As if to add to the governor's troubles, war between Spain and England broke out in 1739, and Georgia, as the frontier colony, contiguous to the far older and stronger Spanish settlement of East Florida, was peculiarly exposed to its ravages. Oglethorpe, at the head of the South Carolina and Georgia militia, made an attempt on Saint Augustine, which miscarried; and this, in 1742,
acquainted with an African prince, | was retaliated by a much stronger Spanish expedition, which took Fort St. Simon, on the Altamaha, and might easily have subdued the whole colony, but it was alarmed and repelled by a stratagem of his concep tion. Oglethorpe soon after returned to England; the trustees finally surrendered their charter to the Crown; and in 1752 Georgia became a royal colony, whereby its inhabitants were enabled to gratify, without restraint, their longing for Slavery and Rum. The struggle of Oglethorpe" in Georgia was aided by the presence, counsels, and active sympathy, of the famous John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, whose pungent description of Slavery as "the sum of all villainies," was based on personal observation and experience during his sojourn in these colonies. But "another king arose, who knew not Joseph;" the magisterial hostility to bondage was relaxed, if not wholly withdrawn; the temptation remained and increased, while the resistance faded and disappeared; and soon Georgia yielded silently, passively, to the contagion of evil example, and soon became not only slaveholding, but, next to South Carolina, the most infatuated of all the thirteen colonies in its devotion to the mighty evil.
12 Oglethorpe lived to be nearly a hundred years old-dying at Cranham Hall, Essex, England, June 30, 1787. It is not recorded nor probable that he ever revisited America after his relinquishment of the governorship of Georgia; but he remained a warm, active, wellinformed friend of our country after, as well as before and during, her struggle for independence. In 1784, Hannah More thus wrote of him:
"I have got a new admirer; it is Gen. Oglethorpe, perhaps the most remarkable man of his time. He was foster-brother to the Pretender,
and is much above ninety years old; the finest figure you ever saw. He perfectly realizes all my ideas of Nestor. His literature is great, his knowledge of the world extensive, and his faculties as bright as ever. * *He is quite a preux chevalier; heroic, romantic, and full of the old gallantry."
Pope-who praised so sparingly-had spoken of him, not quite half a century earlier, in terms evincing like admiration; and many other contemporaries of literary eminence bore testimony to his signal merits.-See Sparks's American Biography.
SLAVERY IN THE REVOLUTION.
THE American Revolution was no sudden outbreak. It was preceded by eleven years of peaceful remonstrance and animated discussion. The vital question concerned the right of the British Parliament to impose taxes, at its discretion, on British subjects in any and every part of the empire. This question presented many phases, and prompted various acts and propositions. But its essence was always the same; and it was impossible that such men as James Otis, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry, should discuss it without laying broad foundations for their argument in premises affecting the natural and general Rights of Man to self-government, with the control of his own products or earnings. The enthusiast who imagines that our patriots were all
1 Witness the Darien (Ga.) resolutions. In the Darien committee, Thursday, June 12, 1775:
"When the most valuable privileges of a people are invaded, not only by open violence, but by every kind of fraud, sophistry, and cunning, it behooves every individual to be upon his guard, and every member of society, like beacons in a country surrounded by enemies, to give the alarm, not only when their liberties in general are invaded, but separately, lest the precedent in one may affect the whole; and to enable the collective wisdom of such a people to judge of its consequences, and how far their respective grievances concern all, or should be opposed to preserve their necessary union. Every laudable attempt of this kind by the good people of this Colony, in a constitutional manner, has been hitherto frustrated by the influence and authority of men in office and their numerous dependents, and in every other natural and just way by the various arts they have put in practice. We, therefore, the representatives of the extensive district of Darien, in the colony of Georgia, being now assembled in congress by the authority and free choice of the inhabitants of the said district, now free from their fetters, do Resolve—”
There are six resolutions in all. The first
convinced of the danger and essential iniquity of Slavery, and the conservative who argues that few or none perceived and admitted the direct application of their logic to the case of men held in perpetual and limitless bondage, are alike mistaken. There were doubtless some who did not perceive, or did not admit, the inseparable connection between the rights they claimed as British freemen and the rights of all men everywhere; but the more discerning and logical of the patriots comprehended and confessed that their assertion of the rightful inseparability of Representation from Taxation necessarily affirmed the grander and more essential right of each innocent, rational being to the control and use of his own capacities and faculties, and to the enjoyment of his own earnings.'
eulogizes "the firm and manly conduct of the people of Boston and Massachusetts," acquiescing in all the resolutions of the "grand American Congress in Philadelphia last October." The second resolution is denunciatory of England, in shutting up the land office, and in other oppressive acts. The third is opposed to ministerial mandates under the name of constitutions. The fourth is denunciatory of the number of officers appointed over the colonies by the British crown, and their exorbitant salaries. The fifth is as follows:
"5th. To show the world that we are not influenced by any contracted or interested motive, but a general philanthropy for all mankind, of whatever climate, language, or complexion, we hereby declare our disapprobation and abhorrence of the unnatural practice of Slavery in America (however the uncultivated state of our country, and other specious arguments, may plead for it), a practice founded in injustice and cruelty, and highly dangerous to our liberties (as well as lives), debasing part of our fellow-creatures below men, and corrupting the virtue and morals of the rest, and as laying the basis of that liberty we contend for (and which we pray the Almighty to continue to the latest posterity) upon a very wrong foundation. We therefore resolve at all times to use our utmost efforts for the manumis